नमो अस्तु नीलग्रीवाय सहस्राक्षाय मीढुषे।
अथो ये अस्य सत्वानोऽहं तेभ्योऽकरं नमः॥
namo astu nīlagrīvāya sahasrākṣāya mīḍhuṣe |
atho ye asya satvāano'haṁ tebhyo'karaṁ namaḥ || (1:9)
Salutation to the blue necked and thousand eyed one and the giver of what is prayed for. I also offer my respects to thousands of his attendants.
Blue necked is again a reference to Purāṇic Shiva. Vedas are age old and were revealed to Riṣi-s much ahead of Purāṇa-s. Thus it is clearly proved that Purāṇa-s derive its source from Vedas only. Neck of Rudra is described as blue because He is the one who absorbs the evil effects of the world. He is not only the source energy for the creation of the universe and He does many acts for sustaining the universe. Hence, sinners are always cautioned about transmigration as they invariably invite the wrath of Rudra. Every part of Rudra’s body represent different aspects of creation, sustenance and destruction. Thousand eyed one refers to His omnipresence. Puruṣasūktam begins by saying “सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः। सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात्। sahasraśīrṣā puruṣaḥ | sahasrākṣaḥ sahasrapāt |” which means Puruṣa (Brahman) has thousands of heads and thousands of eyes. Such symbolic descriptions contextually refer to omnipresence of Brahman. This verse says that Rudra is Brahman. As already discussed, every aspect of the universe is controlled by some energy and each such energy is named as a god. For example, fire energy is called Agni and air energy is called Vāyu, etc. All such gods are under the control of Rudra. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (IV.15) says, “The world lasts so long as the Lord supports it.” In another place the same Upaniṣad (IV.22) says, “O! Rudra, please do not be angry with us and hurt our children and grandchildren. Do not kill our cattle, etc. We pray seeking your protection O Rudra.” The point emphasised is that if we worship Him, He will take care of us. It is said in Sandhyāvandana, sarva deva namaskāraḥ śrī keśavaṁ prati gacchati (सर्व देव नमस्कारः श्री केशवं प्रति गच्छति) which means that the propitiation done to other devatā-s reach only Viṣṇu (keśava). Rudra, Shiva, Keśava and Viṣṇu are the names given to Brahman due to our dualistic mind.
प्र मुञ्च धन्वनस्त्वमुभयोरार्त्नियोर्ज्याम्।
याश्च ते हस्त इषवः परा ता भगवो वप॥
pra muñca dhanvanastvamubhayorārtniyorjyām |
yāśca te hasta iṣavaḥ parā tā bhagavo vapa || (1:10)
O (Rudra) Bhagavān! Please unknot your bow from both ends (both the ends of a bow are connected with a rope; if the rope is removed, bow becomes obsolete). Please also dropdown your arrows.
There is subtle conveyance in this mantra. Unknotting the bow means release us from our karmas. Karmas accrue due to māyā. We pray to Him to release us from bondage and attachments. Why do we pray to Him to put His arrows down? Have we still have fear for him? We need not fear for Him, as long as we do not indulge in sinful activities. As we have already seen, arrows symbolically represents His Blessings. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (II.ii.2) explains about bow and arrow. “praṇava is bow and the individual self is the arrow for this bow. Sharpen this arrow by meditation. Then draw this bow hard (withdrawing the mind from worldly thoughts) and fix it on Brahman. Attain Brahman with that sharpened (purified) mind.” By asking Him to place down the arrows, we indirectly request Him to release us from transmigration. We do not want the souls to be different from Him; we want our souls to merge unto Him. As long as He holds arrows, it means that our souls continue to be different from Him. Śrī Rudram is so powerful in prayers and hence it is considered as the most powerful of all mantras. It has both gross and subtle meaning.
अवतत्य धनुस्त्व सहस्राक्ष शतेषुधे।
निशीर्य शल्पानां मुखा शिवो नः सुमना भव॥
avatatya dhanustva sahasrākṣa śateṣudhe |
niśīrya śalpānāṁ mukhā śivo naḥ sumanā bhava || (1:11)
(This is in continuation of the previous mantra). O Rudra! You have thousand eyes and many quivers (to hold arrows; this was discussed earlier). Please unstring your bow (this is repetition of last mantra) and destroy the sharp edges of your arrows. Be kind and auspicious to us.
Since it is about Liberation, prayer is repeated to Him. The devotee is so scared of rebirth and pains associated with it. Rebirth is only due to karmic imprints. His Omnipresence is a witness to all our actions, and none of our actions can escape His attention. Blunting the arrows mean, Vedic personification of an imaginary malignant influence or demon of darkness and drought (supposed to take possession of the clouds, causing them to obstruct the clearness of the sky and keep back the waters). These are nothing but antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect and ego); unless antaḥkaraṇa is dissolved attaining Liberation is not possible. We pray to Him to cleanse our antaḥkaraṇa, which is more powerful than bāhyakaraṇa or external sensory organs. Therefore, prayer of the previous mantra is repeated in a different way with more powerful prayers. We are now seeking His blessings to cleanse our antaḥkaraṇa so that we can perpetually think about Him in order to attain Liberation. Next mantra also speaks about His bow and arrow.
विजयं धनुः कपर्दिनो विशल्यो बाणवाउत।
अनेशन्नस्येषव आभूरस्य निषङ्गथिः॥
vijayaṁ dhanuḥ kapardino viśalyo bāṇavāuta |
aneśannasyeṣava ābhūrasya niṣaṅgathiḥ || (1:12)
You have unknotted your bow, you have braided hair (braided hair cause fear in the minds of His worshippers) and a quiver without arrows. Let your quiver be without arrows and let your arrows lose their power to cause sufferings. Let the cover of your sword remain as it is.
This mantra gives Him a name Kapardi (kaparda means braided hair). This description subtly refers to Purāṇic Shiva, who is always described with braided hair (plaited). This mantra also refers to the removal of deceptive illusion known as māyā, which is predominated in antaḥkaraṇa. Bow, arrow, sword and other weaponries are nothing but sensory organs that affect antaḥkaraṇa. It is a prayer to Him to remove all the obstacles to realize Him. Ordinary human mind cannot visualize Brahman without form (Nirguṇa Brahman), as māyā continues to play till the final moments of Liberation, which could lead to either jīvanmukti or videhamukti. The ultimate purpose of all the prayers is only Liberation.
There are four types of consciousness. As we know purest form of Consciousness is Brahman and contextually it is Rudra. They are sālokya, sarūpa, samībha and sāyujya. Beyond this is kaivalya. Sālokya is the stage where one performs ritual worship, worshipping idols or portraits of gods. In sarūpa he leaves idol worship and does not differentiate himself from god. In samībha he goes near god and in sāyujya stage he merges with god. These are the stages of one’s consciousness that finally lead to kaivalya. One has to progress from one stage to another and this progression happens depending upon the level of spirituality. By being spiritual does not mean one has to be religious. Spirituality transcends religious affinities, though religion forms the foundation of spirituality.